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Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2010

Jakob Baekgaard By

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Hasse Poulsen is a Danish avant-garde guitarist who has moved to France. With Marc Ducret it is the other way around: He is a French avant-garde guitarist who has moved to Denmark, more specifically Copenhagen. For his concert at Vor Frue Plads, Ducret revealed his new ensemble with Danish trumpeter Kasper Tranberg and drummer Peter Bruun and French trombonist Mathias Mahler and saxophonist Fred Gestard. The highlight of the set was a suite called "Real thing" where Ducret merged the sounds of New Orleans jazz, Frank Zappa and free improvisation, constantly pressing his musicians into more wild territory. Moving around in athletic poses with his guitar, Ducret could be heard saying: "more, more" in a passage where the band worked itself up in a hectic frenzy of distorted hornlines and chaotic rhythms. It was a wild, sensual dance Ducret presented that it will be thrilling to hear on record.

Guitarist Scott DuBois also presented a dance in the shape of his latest work, the album Black Hawk Dance (Sunnyside, 2010). It's an album whose dark lyricism deserves a wide audience and live DuBois made a convincing case as he unfolded his complex compositions with the help of the fluid rhythms of Thomas Morgan, whose bass lines seem to fly around like a moth searching for light, and the more direct melodic approach of saxophonist Gebhard Ullmann, who also played the bass clarinet. It was a joy to behold the tight interplay of the group in the epic title track, with Kresten Osgood's tribal drumming and a repeated guitar pattern building up into a grand climax. DuBois showed himself as an elegant and empathic stylist who was able to take full advantage of the rich palette of sounds his group provided, creating a lush fresco of melodic soundscapes.

Balladeering: A Modern Masterpiece
While the festival featured an abundance of great guitarists, including John Abercrombie, Hasse Poulsen, Marc Ducret and Scott DuBois, there was especially one guitar meeting that stuck out: Danish guitarist Jakob Bro playing with Bill Frisell in a live performance of Bro's masterpiece Balladeering (Loveland Records, 2009). It's an album that in 2009 was chosen as the best Danish record of the year by the magazine Jazz Special and it has justifiably been praised by critics all around the country.

In the world of rock and pop it has become quite common to celebrate a groundbreaking album by performing it live in its enterity. This trend has also reached the jazz world and at Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2009 it was Danish trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg's homage to Miles Davis: Aura (Columbia, 1989) that received a grand work-performance. However, with Jakob Bro it is special case since the record is only a year old and yet it already merits the treatment of a classic. Part of the success of the album is due to the fact that it enlists an absolute who's who in modern jazz: drummer Paul Motian, bassist Ben Street, guitarist Bill Frisell and last, but not least, Lee Konitz on saxophone. The process of recording was documented by filmmaker Sune Blicher in his documentary: Weightless: A Recording Session. Here, acting as the fly on the wall, one could follow the close musical communication that resulted in the album.

The evening begun with a screening of the movie and it certainly set the right mood for the concert, but it also raised the question whether a re-working of the album could be successful. It was certain that Bro couldn't use the exact same line-up of the album and yet he surprised everybody by bringing in Bill Frisell, who had played earlier on with his trio at the scene in Det Kongelige Danske Haveselskab. Besides Bro and Frisell, whose telephatic interaction became the backbone of the concert, the band was completed by Bro's trio of drummer Jakob Høyer and bassist Anders Christensen, supported by the horns of Chris Cheek and George Garzone.


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